Derrick Rose Injury Gives Boston Celtics Golden Opportunity to Make Deep Run in Playoffs


Derrick Rose Injury Gives Boston Celtics Golden Opportunity to Make Deep Run in PlayoffsWhen Derrick Rose fell to the floor during the Chicago Bulls' Game 1 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, the entire Eastern Conference playoff landscape changed instantly.

The All-Star point guard had torn his ACL and was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs.

All of the sudden, the East's top team was without its star player. The once formidable Bulls' playoff hopes took a massive turn for the worse, while the playoff hopes for the other Eastern Conference teams immediately skyrocketed.

One of the teams that could benefit greatly from Rose's absence is the Boston Celtics.

Since the beginning of the season, the Celtics' hopes to raise banner 18 were slim, but the team has since managed to rise out of an early-season slump to play some exceptional basketball, especially after the All-Star break.

However, despite the inspired play of Kevin Garnett after his transition to center, the continued excellence of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo's growing highlight reel, and the emergence of Avery Bradley, the Celtics still had few believers.

The common theory was that the Celtics would probably win their first-round matchup, then get bounced by either the Bulls or the Miami Heat.

Well, if the Celtics do end up playing Chicago in the second round, they have to like their chances without the reigning MVP being able to suit up.

Based on matchups alone, the Celtics now have an immense advantage in the point guard position. Rondo is already a lot for most teams to handle, but with Bradley coming along as a legitimate threat, the Celtics have a dangerous two-headed monster at point guard.

That's going to be a lot for the Bulls to handle. C.J Watson will take over the role as starter in Rose’s absence, and, while a capable backup, Watson and fellow bench player John Lucas could have trouble with the Rondo-Bradley combination over a seven-game series.

While Xs and Os are one part of the game, another major part of Rose's injury could be the effect it has on the Bulls' psyche. Sure, Chicago has done well when its star player has been hurt this season. The Bulls have posted an impressive 18-9 record when Rose is wearing street clothes, and Boston was one of the teams Chicago beat sans Rose.

But this time, the context of the injury is completely different. There is no chance for Rose to step back onto the court this season. The Bulls will have to go on without their MVP. For a team that couldn't get past the Miami Heat with Rose in the lineup last season, Chicago may be hard pressed to make a sustainable run this year.

From the initial reaction from the Bulls, that definitely seems like a possibility. Losing a player as talented as Rose is a debilitating one for any team to take. After a season of ups and downs for Rose and the Bulls, it's not surprising to see a sense of dejection coming from the Windy City.

Of course, there is still enough talent on the Bulls' roster for them to rally, but what must also be considered is the motivation coming from the team that could be on the other side of the court.

The Celtics know this is their last chance to try to win a title with the Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen trio. Several times over the course of the season, the Big Three were almost sold off for a possible early rebuilding project.

However, general manager Danny Ainge stuck with his guys, and the Celtics are going to try it one more time with the group they have.

If these Celtics were to run into the Rose-less Bulls, it would be a good bet that they will do anything in their power to make sure they do not waste such a golden opportunity to get where they want to be.

The Celtics would know that the Bulls would be ripe for the picking without the former No. 1 overall draft pick. Still, for the C's to have any chance of winning No. 18, every break would have to go their way.

Well, a huge one occurred when Rose was being carried off of the court in the United Center. No one wants to see a player like Rose suffer such a tough injury. The 23-year-old is one of the premier players in the league, and it's a shame he won't have a chance to help Chicago get its seventh title.

The Celtics will feel for him, too. They know as well as anyone what an injury can do to a championship contender. Garnett's injury in 2009 sank what was a very realistic opportunity for the Celtics to repeat when they were knocked out by the Orlando Magic.

But like the Magic, the Celtics would make sure to capitalize on the opening, barring that they get through the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

For a team that most felt shouldn’t be contending in the first place, the Celtics have a chance to prove a lot of doubters wrong, and to put the exclamation point on a successful run of basketball in Boston.

All of the ingredients are there for the Celtics to make one last run at the banner they’ve been chasing since 2008. If a trip to Chicago is in the cards, it's a safe bet that the C's will muster every bit of desperation, experience and desire to capitalize on a suddenly easier path to the NBA Finals.

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